Toxoplasmosis pathology

Author: Assoc Prof Patrick Emanuel, Dermatopathologist, Auckland, New Zealand, 2013.

Toxoplasma gondii is often a life-threatening infection in immunesuppressed patients. Frequently, infection does not represent a primary infection with the organism, but rather, is a reactivation of a previously silent or suppressed infection. Most cases of reactivation involve the central nervous system; however, lung and skin involvement have been reported.

Histology of toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasma gondii bradyzoites and tachyzoites may be identified within the epidermal keratinocytes (figure 1, arrow). The associated reaction pattern can mimic an interface dermatitis.

Toxoplasmosis pathology

Special stains for toxoplasmosis

The bradyzoites and tachyzoites of Toxoplasma gondii are quite characteristic. A specific immunohistochemical stain is available. Correlation with serologic studies can also be helpful.

Differential diagnosis of toxoplasmosis pathology

Normal skin – The causative organisms can be easily overlooked.

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Related information



  • Vidal CI, Pollack M, Uliasz A, del Toro G, Emanuel PO. Cutaneous toxoplasmosis histologically mimicking graft-versus-host disease. Am J Dermatopathol. 2008 Oct;30(5):492-3. doi: 10.1097/DAD.0b013e3181837952.

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